Mother, daughter traverse Ridgefield, collecting glasses for charity

RIDGEFIELD — When Mel Harris went to the optometrist’s office over her winter break, she couldn’t help but notice how expensive glasses are.

She began wondering about people who couldn’t afford to buy a new pair, especially during this time, and discussed this concern with her mother, Meredith Harris. They then realized most people in Ridgefield don’t know about the Lions Club glasses drop offs.

Paired with not much to do over her school break, Mel Harris came up with an idea to bring health and happiness to people who could not afford eyeglasses: the daughter/mother duo would volunteer themselves, despite the pandemics limitations, to gather used or unwanted glasses to donate to the Lion’s Club.

“I think it’s absolutely amazing.” Mel Harris said. “I’m so proud of our community that we were able to get this amount. I honestly didn’t think we would get close to 200 already and it’s only been a little bit.”

Meredith Harris said they started the collection in the week between Christmas and New Year’s. She posted about the initiative on Facebook, asking if anyone would be willing to part with their unwanted or unused glasses. They then went to those houses, picking up the glasses from mailboxes to allow for social distancing.

The trips also gave Mel Harris some driving practice, letting her put her recently acquired learner’s permit to use.

“She learned every nook and cranny of Ridgefield and we went from house to house collecting eye glasses,” Meredith Harris said. “It was pretty successful. We had over 100 over the holiday week and so I posted again through Ridgefield Facebook pages that she wanted to do it again.”

They spent last Saturday completing another pickup, collecting nearly 70 pairs that afternoon.

After the success of their first deliveries, people have been private messaging Meredith Harris on Facebook, telling her they have glasses to donate, providing her their address and then leaving the glasses by their mailboxes for pickup.

It also showed them a lot of trust among the Ridgefield townspeople. Those who have not been able to donate have been complimentary of their effort.

Mel Harris said people will often ask why they are collecting glasses and are supportive of the goal.

“After we explain they’re like, ‘That’s amazing, I’m so happy I can give to this cause,’ and it’s really awesome to hear how people are so excited for this,” she said.

Very conscious of recycling, reusing, people who are less fortunate, and a lover of environmental science, Mel Harris hopes other will copy her idea of collecting useful items for people who cannot afford them.

Meredtih Harris said this project was the perfect idea.

“It’s giving people the gift of sight, kids the ability to see a monitor or a blackboard,” she added.

They will do another pick up at residents’ mailboxes over Presidents Weekend and will likely do more.

“We’re going to continue the effort when there’s enough time to do the driving over a weekend and I imagine she’ll continue when she’s allowed to drive on her own,” Meredith Harris said. “We also want to bring awareness to the fact that you can drop off your used glasses to a drop box at Stop & Shop and many optometrists’ offices.”